Column: Mary’s secret secondhand pactWith the turkey carved and mashed potatoes decimated, it’s time to turn to the colorful store ads and plan our holiday shopping. According to a Gallup poll, the average adult is spending $770 this year on gifts. I find this figure astounding. I just sold my conversion van to a teenager this fall for $850. The idea that one person spends almost as much on Christmas gifts as another spends on a van to get to work is unthinkable.
By: Mary Lebens, The Farmington Independent
With the turkey carved and mashed potatoes decimated, it’s time to turn to the colorful store ads and plan our holiday shopping. According to a Gallup poll, the average adult is spending $770 this year on gifts. I find this figure astounding. I just sold my conversion van to a teenager this fall for $850. The idea that one person spends almost as much on Christmas gifts as another spends on a van to get to work is unthinkable.
Not so long ago I was in the same shoes as the teenager who bought my van. I used to drive an $800 Ford Festiva. Someone took a baseball bat to the car before I bought it, so it wasn’t much to look at, but it was a good runner. I loved that goofy little hatchback so much I bought a second Festiva for backup just in case the first one died. I spent over four years driving those homely cars around Farmington. My neighbors had a lot of colorful nicknames for them, most of which can’t be printed in the newspaper.
Since owning the Festivas, I tend to think of all of the money I spend in terms of “Festiva-units.” Two years ago when I bought my new couch and my new laptop they each cost close to a Festiva unit. These are the most expensive things I’ve ever purchased, excluding a couple of my cars and my house. Even though I love shopping for other people, spending a Festiva unit every single year at Christmas seems mind-boggling. If I spent $800 bucks every Christmas on cars, there would be a line of beat-up hatchbacks stretching down the block.
So how can we have a fun time shopping for others, and keep our budget under the price of a used car? I’ll share with you one of my top-secret strategies. One is to make a pact with certain close friends or family members to buy second-hand items.
This might sound weird, but let me explain. When I first moved to Farmington I was paying a mortgage and college tuition at the same time. A lot of my friends were still in college or struggling to put together cash for a down payment on a house. A bunch of us girls made a pact that we would only buy used CDs for each other as gifts. Everyone got some new tunes for holidays and birthdays, and really, who cares if a CD is used or not? CDs are a little bit out of style now, but you could apply this concept to books, costume jewelry or funky coffee mugs. If you have lots of kids on your list, you might pair up with other parents to exchange picture books or toys your kids have outgrown.
Here in Farmington we are lucky to have the perfect place to shop for pre-owned items: Shidor, the second-hand store. They carry splendid gift items, everything from books, toys, jewelry, cute kids clothes and pretty baubles like candle holders and serving dishes. Shidor’s specials are incredible. Just last week they had a blowout sale of 10 items for $10. You can even “Like” them on Facebook to get advance notice of sales. The hands-down best part of shopping at Shidor is not just the great deals, but the fact that all of the profits go to a great cause, helping families in need.
This holiday season I dare you to make the second-hand pact with a friend or family member. The nicest gift you can give is not a Black Friday deal, it’s your time. Most likely the people who care about you want to spend time with you, not with a tacky sweater or bath set you bought them. Remember that, and let it give you the courage to ask for the pact. I learned long ago that no one in Farmington cares if you spent a whole Festiva unit on Christmas gifts, because they like you for who you are, not what you buy.